Thursday, November 17, 2011

An Interview with Jessica Bell, Author of String Bridge

Today, I'm very pleased to announce, I'll be interviewing Jessica Bell, author of recently released String Bridge! Please join me in welcoming her! And also, please stop by her blog and pay her a visit.

Let's get started!

So, Jessica, for anyone who didn't see my review yesterday, could you tell us a bit about yourself and your debut novel, String Bridge?

String Bridge:
Greek cuisine, smog and domestic drudgery was not the life Australian musician, Melody, was expecting when she married a Greek music promoter and settled in Athens, Greece. Keen to play in her new shoes, though, Melody trades her guitar for a 'proper' career and her music for motherhood. That is, until she can bear it no longer and plots a return to the stage--and the person she used to be. However, the obstacles she faces along the way are nothing compared to the tragedy that awaits

I wrote this book because I wanted break into the women's fiction market and steer it away from the stereotypically glorified woman that is most commonly portrayed today and replace with pure honesty instead. Not every woman in this world lives without regret, knows exactly what they want, and has the courage to put every essence of their being into achieving their dreams. Not every woman is inspirational to others. Not every woman can leave their comfort zone to better their future. But, so what? Does that mean a less strong-minded woman doesn't have an interesting story to tell? Definitely not.

Can I just say that this was EXACTLY why I loved String Bridge so much! I felt like Melody was real and I could completely relate to her.

I grew up in Melbourne, Australia, to two gothic rock musicians who had successful independent careers during the '80s and early '90s. I spent much of my childhood travelling to and from Australia to Europe, experiencing two entirely different worlds, yet feeling equally at home in both environments. I currently live in Athens, Greece and work as a freelance writer/editor for Hellenic American Union, Cengage Learning, Pearson Education, Education First and Signature Manuscripts. I have published a book of poetry called Twisted Velvet Chains. A full list of poems and short stories published in various anthologies and literary magazines can be found on my website. Additionally, I have written various English textbook materials and am also a singer/songwriter/guitarist.

In September, 2012, I will be running The Homeric Writers' Retreat & Workshop on the Greek island of Ithaca. The workshops are designed for both aspiring and established writers and used primarily as a playground for sharing a passion in an inspiring environment.

Did you always want to go with a small press?  What's your favorite part of working with Lucky Press?

Not in the beginning. I think like every aspiring author the dream is to get an agent and hit the bestseller list, yeah? But that’s not always realistic in today’s publishing climate. I soon realized that my style of writing better suited a small press and decided to start submitting to those. Lucky Press is perfect for me and has been amazing. My favorite part about working with them is most definitely the bond we’ve developed. They are more than my publisher, they are my friend.

If you could pick one line or one paragraph out of your whole novel to share with everyone, what would it be?

I’m not sure I’m ready to wipe my skin dry; to drown myself in a new ocean, where my desire for fleeing this emotional cage hides like a mermaid ambivalent about growing legs.”

Wow. That is gorgeous writing.

What's your favorite thing about your MC, Melody?  Least favorite (if any)?

Favorite: that she is only human
Least favorite: that she is only human … J

Why did you pick her story to write?

Even though music doesn’t define me as much as writing does, it is still a big part of my life. And the idea for the book came about when I was thinking about a time in my life when music was all I ever wanted to breathe. Even though my priorities had changed, I still wanted to write about the power music has over someone who is so passionate about it. But I think music could be replaced by any sort of passion in String Bridge, because basically the story is about needing something more than you need yourself.

Is there any more you wish you could have told, but didn't?

Nope, nothing. But I still wake up in the middle of the night wishing I could change nit-picky things!

What draws you to the genre you write in?

I love playing around with different words and sounds and seeing how differently they roll off my tongue. Literary fiction is just like singing without a melody. It’s writing to a tempo.

Are you working on anything we can read in the future?

Yes! My second novel, Bitter Like Orange Peel, is about a twenty-five year old Australian archaeology undergraduate named Kit, who doesn’t like to get her hands dirty. She feels misplaced and comes to the conclusion that meeting her father, Roger, will make some sense of her life, despite him being worth the rotting orange rind in her backyard. Well, at least that’s what she’s been conditioned to think of him by the three women in her life: Ailish, her mother—an English literature professor who communicates in quotes and clich├ęs, and who still hasn’t learned how to express emotion on her face; Ivy, her half-sister—a depressed professional archaeologist, with a slight case of nymphomania, who fled to America after a divorce to become a waitress; and Eleanor, Ivy’s mother—a pediatric surgeon who embellishes her feelings with medical jargon, and who named her daughter after intravenous. Against all three women’s wishes, Kit decides to find Roger, but in doing so, discovers he is not the only rotten fruit.

My third novel, Muted, is set in Arles, France, in a totalitarian society where it is illegal to wear clothes. In some streets, it's also illegal to sing without accompanying instruments. Concetta, a famous Italian a cappella singer from before “the change,” breaks these laws. As punishment, her vocal chords are brutally slashed and her eardrums surgically perforated. Unable to cope with living a life without song, she resolves to drown herself in the river, clothed in a dress stained with performance memories from her hometown, Milan. But Concetta's suicide attempt is cut short as someone grabs her by the throat and pulls her to the surface. Is it the busking harpist, who encouraged her to feel music through vibration, acting as saviour? Or a street warden on the prowl for another offender to detain? From this moment, the reader will discover how Concetta came to be in this position, and what will happen to her after the suicide attempt.

Muted will explore a variety of themes such as overcoming loss, coping with mental illness and disability, dealing with discrimination, loss of freedom, inhibited self-expression, motivation to succeed, escaping oppression, expression through art and music, self-sacrifice, channelling the thoughts of the deceased, and challenging moral views and values.

Those sound great! I can't wait to read them!

Now for some fun questions:

You're trapped on a deserted island.  Which of your characters would you bring to keep you company, and why?

Tessa. Because she has her whole life ahead of her and she might have more motivation to get us off it! Hehehe …

Melody can only eat one meal for the rest of her life.  What does she choose?

Oh gosh, I think I came across a similar question elsewhere and found it really hard to answer because I never actually thought about what her favorite food was … Um … probably Greek Salad. Simple, tasty and nutritious.

And finally...

Is there anything about Greek music that Melody likes?

Probably the way in which it makes her want to belly dance when she’s had too much wine.

Ahahaha! Love it! Thanks again for stopping by, Jessica! 

And for all of you who would like to learn more about Jessica and her novel, String Bridge, here are some links for you to check out:

String Bridge website 
Jessica's website


  1. Thanks so much for having me, Emily! :)

  2. wow! excellent interview! very interesting!

  3. I've read a lot of Jessica interviews over the past week, and I've learned something new at each one! A great marketing campaign!! Excellent job Emily! :)

  4. Very nice header...taking a look around.




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